Cats are extremely hygienic creatures and are well known for taking care of their own grooming. However, helping with your kitten’s grooming is vital because it will help cement the bond between you and also provides an opportunity for you to check for signs of ill health. Grooming your kitten from an early age also ensures that your cat gets used to being handled regularly, which will make visits to the vet easier later in life.
The benefits of grooming
Grooming not only stimulates the circulation and improves muscle tone, but also minimises hairballs by removing loose hairs before they can be ingested. It also stimulates the glands at the base of the hairs, waterproofing the coat and smoothing down the fur to improve the coat’s insulating properties.
How to groom a kitten
This depends on your kitten’s breed and also the length of the coat. Your kitten’s coat will be shorter, softer and fluffier than an adult cat, but will grow coarser with time.
It’s best to get your kitten used to grooming at an early age rather than waiting until they’re older. This helps them get used to it so they can fully enjoy it. Always groom your kitten on a non-slip surface to make the experience more comfortable.
For owners of short-coated kittens, the good news is that they will only need a quick 'once-over' with a light brush or comb once a week. Use the opportunity to check your kitten’s ears, eyes and mouth, as well as examining the skin for parasites, wounds or lumps and bumps.
Long-coated breeds will require daily attention with the right type of equipment – ask your breeder or a groomer for advice. First, offer the brush for your kitten to sniff. Often, they will rub their faces on the bristles, which is a positive step. After stroking your kitten for a while, start brushing gently, initially on the sides of their body. After a couple of minutes stop brushing and start stroking again if grooming is a struggle. This will all help engage with your kitten.
When your cat is familiar with the sensation of being groomed, start to groom the belly, tail, ears and other sensitive areas, but be as gentle as possible, and keep the initial sessions very short.
Checking your kitten’s health while grooming
While your kitten is relaxed and enjoying the grooming experience, gently touch the paws and examine the claws. Check your kitten’s ears and gently open the mouth so you can examine the teeth and gums.
Once your kitten has learned the routine, take it to the table where you will want to groom your cat as an adult. Your pet will quickly associate this spot with being groomed and rewarded, making it much easier for you to regularly check the signs of good health later in life.